Original Article

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 517-523

First online:

Decision-Making Role Preferences Among Patients with HIV: Associations with Patient and Provider Characteristics and Communication Behaviors

  • Rashmi KumarAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University Email author 
  • , P. Todd KorthuisAffiliated withOregon Health Science University
  • , Somnath SahaAffiliated withOregon Health Science University
  • , Geetanjali ChanderAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University
  • , Victoria SharpAffiliated withSaint-Lukes Roosevelt
  • , Jonathon CohnAffiliated withWayne State University
  • , Richard MooreAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University
  • , Mary Catherine BeachAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University

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A preference for shared decision-making among patients with HIV has been associated with better health outcomes. One possible explanation for this association is that patients who prefer a more active role in decision-making are more engaged in the communication process during encounters with their providers. Little is known, however, about patient and provider characteristics or communication behaviors associated with patient decision-making preferences in HIV settings.


We examined patient and provider characteristics and patient-provider communication behaviors associated with the decision-making role preferences of patients with HIV.


Cross-sectional analysis of patient and provider questionnaires and audio recorded clinical encounters from four sites.


A total of 45 providers and 434 of their patients with HIV.


Patients were asked how they prefer to be involved in the decision-making process (doctor makes all/most decisions, patients and doctors share decisions, or patients make decisions alone). Measures of provider and patient communication behaviors were coded from audio recordings using the Roter Interaction Analysis System.


Overall, 72% of patients preferred to share decisions with their provider, 23% wanted their provider to make decisions, and 5% wanted to make decisions themselves. Compared to patients who preferred to share decisions with their provider, patients who preferred their provider make decisions were less likely to be above the age of 60 (ARR 0.09, 95% CI 0.01–0.89) and perceive high quality provider communication about decision-making (ARR 0.41, 95% CI 0.23–0.73), and more likely to have depressive symptoms (ARR 1.92, 95% CI 1.07–3.44). There was no significant association between patient preferences and measures of provider or patient communication behavior.


Observed measures of patient and provider communication behavior were similar across all patient decision-making role preferences, indicating that it may be difficult for providers to determine these preferences based solely on communication behavior. Engaging patients in open discussion about decision-making preferences may be a more effective approach.


HIV communication decision-making preferences